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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of Illinois
For Immediate Release
Gregory K. Harris, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-cdil
Monday, September 12, 2022

Peoria Man Sentenced to 37 Months in Federal Prison for Participating in the Theft of 25 Firearms From a Gun Store

PEORIA, Ill. – A Peoria, Illinois, man, DaJuan Edwards-Melton, 21, of the 2100 block of W. Antoinette Street, was sentenced on September 8, 2022, to an aggregate 37 months in federal prison for his role in the burglary of a federally licensed firearms dealer and for possession of stolen firearms. Following the term of imprisonment, Edwards-Melton will serve a three-year term of supervised release.

At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that in the early morning hours of December 12, 2021, a juvenile female with her infant child drove Edwards-Melton and two juvenile males to Midwest Exchange, a firearms dealer in Bloomington, Illinois, where the crew attempted but failed to enter the business by force. The crew then moved on to Smiley’s Sports Shop where they broke a window, entered the business, and stole 24 handguns and an AR-15 rifle. After the burglary, the crew returned to Peoria with the firearms.

The government explained in court that an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Bloomington Police Department; and the Peoria Police Department led to the arrest of Edwards-Melton on December 13, 2021. At the time of his arrest, Edwards-Melton was in possession of one of the handguns stolen during the burglary. Also on December 13, 2021, agents recovered two additional stolen handguns during the search of a residence on Warren Street in Peoria.

The government also presented evidence that, following the burglary, Edwards-Melton distributed firearms to three acquaintances prior to his arrest. To date, six of the 25 stolen firearms have been recovered. Of the six recovered, the government established that three of them had been used in other crimes in Peoria, including the shooting of a 13-year-old boy in December 2021. The government established that another stolen firearm had been recovered during the investigation of an armed vehicular carjacking and a third stolen gun was recovered during the foot pursuit of a subject wanted for domestic battery.

Edwards-Melton was indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2021 and entered a guilty plea to both counts in March 2022. He has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The statutory penalties are up to 10 years’ imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release for each count.

The case investigation was conducted by the Bloomington and Peoria Police Departments and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Hanna represented the government in the prosecution.

The case against Edwards-Melton is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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